Growing our future food: crops

How to feed the world without exhausting planetary reserves? An online course aims to help students understand the basics of crop production and explore the opportunities.

Source: EDX

Feeding nine billion in 2050 without exhausting the planetary reserves is perhaps the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced. The principles of production ecology form the fundament to the ‘availability pillar’ of Global Food Security and with that lie at the heart of food production. They can be applied to both crops and animal production. This course on the basics of crop production will discuss why yields in some parts of the world are lagging behind and identify the agro-ecological drivers that shape the wide diversity of production systems. Furthermore, key issues relating to bridging of yield gaps and how these link to different visions of sustainability will be explored.

This online course will be of great interest to international students and educated public from different backgrounds, both professionally and culturally, to enrich their views and action perspectives related to global food security and food systems.

Prof Ken Giller will introduce you to crop production and underlying bio-physical principles in order to identify constraining factors in yield formation. He will explain how to assess yield gaps at the level of fields and production systems around the world, contributing to efficient resource management. Wageningen University and Research, through its unique systems-based approach to food systems, adds the phase of primary production to the broad context of global food security.

Course staff

Ken Giller

Ken Giller is an expert in Plant Production Systems. He leads a group of scientists with profound experience in farming systems analysis to explore future scenarios for land use with a focus on food production at Wageningen University. Ken’s research has focused on smallholder farming systems in tropical regions with special attention for sub-Saharan Africa. In particular problems of soil fertility, the role of nitrogen fixation in tropical legumes, and the temporal and spatial dynamics of resources use within crop/livestock farming systems have this interest. He leads a number of large initiatives such as N2Africa (Putting Nitrogen Fixation to Work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa), NUANCES (Nutrient Use in Animal and Cropping Systems: Efficiencies and Scales) and Competing Claims on Natural Resources.

Harrie LovensteinHarrie Lovenstein holds a MSc in tropical agronomy. He has specialized in arid land agriculture and gained hands on experience in o.a. runoff farming, innovative cropping systems, and tree propagation techniques. He is presently affiliated to the Centre for Sustainable Development and Food Security at WageningenUR and involved in distance learning projects.

Gerrie van de VenGerrie van de Ven holds a PhD in Agricultural and Environmental Science from Wageningen University. Employed at the Plant Production Systems Group led by Prof Giller, she combines teaching and research with a focus on farming systems analysis and optimization of land use systems. Nutrient cycling, environmental impacts and the interaction between crops and livestock, both in the western world and in Africa, have her special attention. Her scientific work has built on the production ecological principles and modelling approach as taught in this mooc. She teaches both under-graduate and post-graduate students on this subject .

More information here; enroll here.

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